Procrastination has overtaken my body lately. Somehow, though, I’ve managed to squeak out Part 10 of Owned. I know my 2 readers are excited and losing sleep over this. Because of the guilt building inside, I forced myself to etch together this segment of short story.
Also, now that I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, there is a new need to finish Owned before November 1st. Otherwise, I’ll be writing two novels at once. Nobody’s brain or fingers can work at that speed…Stephen King novels are proof of that!
“I love how romantic you’ve gotten over the last few weeks, Mark,” was what it said. Nothing overtly unusual except for that whole part where I just attacked my best friend since childhood because I thought he was screwing my wife. It’s not likely that one remains, no, becomes more romantic with their own wife at the same time they are having an affair with another woman.
As I stared at his text so blankly her words jumbled into nonsense, they stopped being jumbled. They stopped being anything. They, like mine all week, disappeared before my very eyes. I cannot tell if I said it out loud or not but I thought it: What the fuck?
“Was that my wife again?”
For a while neither of us spoke.
Finally, I broke the silence, “I’m sorry, man.”
“Why? The fact that I’m right or that you gave me a bloody nose? Twice.”
“Both. I think.”
“It’s alright.” More silence. “I popped Kyle three times before I let myself believe this crazy situation.” We both laughed. Neither of us were happy.
“Not really sure. After Kyle went to the nut house and his wife moved outta state, I kinda fell into a rut. I just started doing exactly as it told me. Pretend nothing has changed and keep pretending my wife doesn’t exist. My video self told me I no longer mattered. I started to believe him. Me. Whatever.”
He chortled tiredly.
“Once you started acting weird, I put two and two together.” I looked at him. “I know. I know. Thinking is your department. But given the circumstance can you blame me?”
I shrugged, handed Mark back his cell, and stared off beyond our office building. All signs pointed to this strange science fiction situation, but logic argued with me. Then I wondered how many other men were in our positions. Were we among the first to be phased out of necessity? Or were we a few stragglers our Virtual Selves had not yet taken. Worse still, were we mixed somewhere in the middle? Just another number. A drop in the sea of slavery. Just two among billions of men slowly forced to give up their freedom.
Kyle was in an institution. He probably tried to warn others around him of the inevitable. Everyone thought he was insane when all he was trying to do was help. Nobody listened. Now look at us. Kyle probably is insane now. If he isn’t, he certainly thinks he is. He must. I questioned my own sanity all along. Still do.
“So you’ve been getting these texts from your wife now for three weeks?”
“How have you done it?”
“When resistance is futile, Chris, you just learn to exist with the world as it is.”
“Yeah. I mean, I was gearing up to report this all to the authorities…”
“How the hell would I know, Chris? The cops? The media? Somebody. Anybody.”
“Kyle was talking nonsense for about three days. Accused me of screwing his girl, too. Three days into his rants and accusations I received my first text from my wife. He was standing right there. Suddenly his ranting didn’t sound so crazy.” His head dropped between his shoulders like mine. What I wouldn’t have given at that moment for a couple of beers to share. “I told him I was going straight to the authorities.”
“That’s just like you. Just do.”
“Exactly. But Kyle talked me out of it much like I talked you out of it at The Coffee Shop.”
“Look at him now. In the nut bin with actual crazies.”
“What’s really weird?”
I grumbled something.
“When Kyle was talking me out of telling anyone, he got this crazy look in his eyes all of a sudden.”
“Yeah, that was confusion coupled with actual crazy.”
“No. That’s just it. It was the opposite of confusion. Like he was working through some complex equation in his mind and bordering on an epiphany. Then the light bulb burst…”
“And he just took off running, screaming about some idea he had.”
“Then I never saw him again.”
“So it goes.”
“So it goes.”